Charlotte Balbier

fifty shades of green. maggie sottero for a modern wedding at the lowry – lorna & chris

September 5th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (44)

Don’t get us wrong – we love lace, blush and sherbet shades as much as the next wedding blog, but if you’re not a lover of pastel colours and vintage vibes? Well, apparently the online wedding world can be a bit of a lonely place, or so today’s real wedding bride Lorna tells us.

Thankfully, the Brides Up North team was there, donning our sequinned superhero capes and championing weddings of all sizes, budgets, trends and types to inspire Lorna-the-Pastel-Phobic-Bride. Fast forward to April 2017 and the perfectly modern emerald-themed wedding of Lorna and her beau Chris unfolded at Salford Quays in Manchester, and fast forward again to September 2017 and Mike Plunkett’s fabulous photography once again graces our pages to stimulate the imaginations of yet more brides. It’s like one of those diagrams of the water cycle you had to draw in Year 8 Geography, or the Circle of Life (the Ciiiiiircle of Liiiiiiife….) that Elton John told us about in The Lion King…

Ahem. Anyway. Back to the Brides Up North mission statement: to showcase statement northern wedding styling at its very best. Lorna and Chris’ big day does that and so much more, giving us a reception venue that looks like “a really glam Jurassic Park”, some split pants on the dancefloor and dessert before dinner – because if you can’t do it on your wedding day, when can you?

Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, Tuesday.

With images by Mike Plunkett.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (43)

lorna says: Chris proposed to me on the morning of his 28th Birthday. We were in bed recovering from his party the night before when he said he had a present for me. He turned to his bedside table and when he turned back he was holding an emerald ring! He asked me to marry him…and I asked him if he was taking the…! When I realised he was serious, I accepted with lots of kisses and happy tears. It was perfect, just the two of us and our dog, Bear.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (40)

We were married on 29th April 2017. We wanted a spring wedding, but also needed time to save pennies to pay for it all! So our engagement lasted just over 2 years, marrying a month after Chris’ 30th birthday. We also loved that it was a bank holiday weekend, giving everyone an extra day to recover before heading back to work.

We had the ceremony and reception at the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays. The ceremony was held in the Pier 8 room, which was a new park built in 2015/2016. We were originally going to use the Hexagon Room, but we fell in love with the Pier 8 room before the big day. It was simple and modern, with lots of light.

The reception was held in the Compass Room, which just blew us away; it was the main reason we chose the venue. It’s a large circular self-contained room, with almost 360 degree views of the Quays. It also has its own balcony, smokers’ area, bar and bathrooms.

As my dad has a ‘dodgy knee’ due to severe arthritis, he struggles to walk long distances and uses a mobility scooter to get around anywhere larger than a house. The Lowry set-up is perfect for people with disabilities as everything is so close together and they were so accommodating of my dad’s scooter – which got a few outings from tipsy friends and family later on once he was settled at a table!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (48)

We didn’t really have a theme as such, but we knew we wanted dark greens as our wedding colours. Green is my favourite colour, and my engagement ring was a pale emerald.

We also knew we wanted nods to our favourite things, so Lego for our cake topper and Disney music during the drinks reception – we’ve been to The Magic Kingdom twice in three years! We wanted film and TV themes from our favourites: I walked down the aisle to Kissing You from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, our recessional music was the Jurassic Park theme and we had a selection of John Williams’ work as we signed the register. Our guest book was the “Be Our Guest” book from Illustries. Our placecard holders were origami cranes, which I folded over the space of about a month (I didn’t start early enough!) to represent Chris’ love of animals.

As we’re fond of a drink, our tables were all named after our favourite tipples: Sailor Jerry Rum, Grey Goose Vodka and Aperol Liquor. The table plan was an (empty) bottle of each of the spirits with a label around the neck for the names, and our friend Mark illustrated the bottles for each table so people had to match the bottle on the table plan to the drawing on the table.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (26)

While planning the wedding, I found it hard to find inspiration for non-pastel/vintage themed weddings. Brides up North was an absolute godsend in that it showcased a wide range of weddings. The internet became my best friend!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (2)

My dress was Marina by Maggie Sottero. I was really struggling to find a dress I liked in magazines or on the internet (I’m a slow researcher but fast shopper) as I’m not a fan of lace or satin – a bit of an issue when you’re wedding dress shopping! I finally came across the Marina in a magazine and luckily it was stocked at my local bridal shop, Sense and Sensibility in Stockport. I knew it was the one when I put it on; it was gorgeous and SO comfortable. Lesley the shop owner was fantastic – patient and not at all pushy. Also, random fact: my little sister’s middle name is Marina. It was clearly meant to be!

I paired the dress with a cathedral length single tier veil dotted with Swarovski crystals, also from Sense and Sensibility. I wore silver strappy sandals from Ronald Cartier at Debenhams and a hair vine for the evening reception from eBay, which my bridesmaids helped me to clip in after dinner. I also wore a 1930s emerald and diamante bracelet from Gemma Redmond Vintage, which was a gift from my parents after I saw it at a wedding fair, plus a pair of vintage emerald and diamante earrings, which Chris gave me as my wedding gift. It was a bit of a gamble on his part, but he has impeccable taste!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (1)

Right from the beginning, Chris said, “I want to wear a green velvet jacket” – and that’s what he did! It took a lot of Google alerts, and research to find one within our budget and in his size. Eventually, we sourced his velvet tuxedo jacket from Moss Bros. He paired it with skinny fit tuxedo pants from ASOS (after a debate over whether he could wear skinny black jeans to our wedding!), a black waistcoat also from ASOS and a tuxedo shirt from House of Fraser. His bowtie was one he’d had for years and he wore Anchor studded Dr Martens. He has a large Dr Martens collection and it just seemed right for him to wear them.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (6)

The bridesmaids wore green multiway dresses from Debenhams. I knew I wanted multiway dresses, as I’d worn one for a friend’s wedding the previous year and loved them, but some of the more well-known brands were out of my budget. Luckily, my research led me to Debenhams and they were perfect! All the girls wore silver shoes of their choice and a white pashmina for when it got chilly later on. They loved them, as they could adapt them to their own personal style.

Chris had a mixture of groomsmen and groomswomen, as two of his best friends are women. We rented classic black tuxedos for the groomsmen from Moss Bros, pairing them with green ties which we colour-matched to the bridesmaids’ dresses and ordered from Swaggerandswoon.com. We told the groomswomen to choose any black dress with a £75 budget from us. Both of them are incredibly stylish, so I knew they’d choose something fun and appropriate. Lauren ended up wearing an old dress from her closet but paired it with some new Irregular Choice shoes and Kirsty bought her off-the-shoulder dress from prettylittlething.com, where she works.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (7)

The only transport we hired was our white cab to ferry the bridal party across from the hotel. We use taxis to get around a lot as we don’t own a car, so we thought a white cab was a fun option. I found idotaxis.co.uk on one of my many Google hunts.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (8)

Our AMAZING photographer was Mike Plunkett. We booked Mike almost 18 months before the wedding after finding him through the Manchester Evening News; he was one of the suppliers who provided his services for their annual Win A Wedding competition.

On the day, Mike was so friendly; simultaneously a calming influence and up for a laugh. I barely noticed him snapping away until it came to posed shots, which was perfect. He also wears a snazzy bow tie, which was a plus for us!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (10)

I chose not to carry any flowers. I’d seen brooch bouquets before we got engaged and had wanted one for as long as I could remember – I’m a bit of a magpie. So over the course a year, I collected around 80 brooches, vintage and new (including a replica of the Leaf brooch Frodo wears in Lord of the Rings – another film nod!) both from shops, but also from friends who donated old brooches. I also borrowed one of my late grandmother’s, and one of my mum’s brooches too. My old, new and borrowed was contained in one item!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (12)

The bridesmaids carried posies of white hydrangea, foliage and fresh rosemary from Wholehearted Flowers. Gena made the posies elegant and modern and I was so pleased with the final result.

Chris, the fathers and groomsmen all wore boutonnieres made of white hydrangea, foliage and fresh rosemary, and the groomswomen wore matching wrist corsages. We also had matching corsages for my mum, Sylvia, stepmother-in-law Lorraine and Chris’ sister Donna.

We decided to have flower-free decorations, and went with foliage only. As the Compass Room is so tall, I figured we could go pretty big with the centrepieces and had an image of tall glass vases filled with palm leaves and other tropical foliage. They looked even better than I’d pictured; it felt like a really glam Jurassic Park!

We also hired 5ft light up initials from Teresa at Always and Forever Love. I’d loved the light up letters for a while, and knew an L & C would be just perfect for the space.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (14)

Our favours were another crafty gift from my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law. Lorraine used to work for a sweet shop in Hyde Market and could still get hold of Chocolate Limes (our favourite sweet) through her confectionary contacts. They were presented in small green and floral boxes which Lorraine put together for us and I was so pleased with how they turned out.

Our cake was the one thing I struggled to decide on. We eventually turned to an old work friend, Janine Cooper who now works full time as a baker via jancaracakes.co.uk. She came to our house for a brew and a chat and helped me finally decide on a modern ombre tiered cake, with silver accents and white sugar paste peonies. It was beautiful.

We chose to have prosecco, beers and mini cream and jam scones for our drinks reception. Dessert before dinner – why not?!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (17)

For dinner, we chose three courses: a chicken, pear and walnut salad with tarragon dressing or butternut squash and pine nut tart for the vegetarians, followed by lamb shank with colcannon mash and buttered spinach or sweet potato gratin, spiced aubergine and grilled vegetables. Our dessert was Passionfruit Pavlova.

We chose to serve Sauvignon Blanc, White Zinfandel Rose and Shiraz. We’re big wine drinkers, and I tried to make an effort to make sure there was a type of wine for everyone.

For the evening reception, we served Steak and Stout or Cheese, Onion and Potato Pie with Mashed potatoes. I didn’t manage to try any myself as I was too busy, but apparently it was amazing, with some guests going back for seconds and even thirds!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (18)

We chose to only have a DJ as our evening entertainment as the DJ we hired, Nick Campbell, is AMAZING. He played a lot of Madonna, Prince, power ballads and RuPaul – our favourites. I think my favourite dancefloor moment was my friend Mark splitting his pants during a rousing lip-sync to a Dreamgirls track…! Our first dance was to Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding, which has been our song since we first got together.

We also hired a Photobooth from Photohaus Photobooth, which went down a storm with our guests. Three of my oldest friends decided to take a topless picture in there with just ‘Kiss Me Quick’ signs for modesty…

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (23)

I ordered all our stationery from vistaprint.com. It was so easy, and such good value for money.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (21)

We would recommend The Lowry to anyone getting married, or wanting to host any kind of party. Lucy, or co-ordinator was so helpful, and answered all my questions with a smile and reassurance. It was all exactly as discussed and I’m still so impressed with how smoothly it all went!

Also, The Lowry is run as a non-profit organisation, meaning any money they make goes back into the arts and local community. I loved that our money was going towards something like that.

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (32)

I can’t pick just one standout moment from the day. Although we did have a sit down together before heading up to the reception and Chris went through his speech with me. Then we took our first selfie as husband and wife, which I loved – just us two, letting it all sink in before the next whirlwind…

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (33)

We honeymooned in Runaway Bay, Jamaica at the Jewel Resort. It was two weeks of quality time, relaxation and fun – much-needed after two years of saving and planning!

An Emerald Wedding at The Lowry (c) Mike Plunkett (39)

Our advice would be try to take some time on the day to just look around at everything, and take it all in. I did this several times throughout dinner and the evening reception, and just looking at the final product of all our hard work and saving and seeing how much fun everyone was having really made me swell with pride and love.

the big picture

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about the author

Laura McDonagh
Laura is a true Northophile: she married Adam in Durham in 2011 accompanied by 200 Northumbrian lamb shanks and a Mackem 1950s tribute band who did a rockabilly cover version of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. They honeymooned in Northumberland in a 1972 MG convertible, went surfing in Alnmouth and made it to the Edinburgh Fringe (let's ignore the fact that it rained all week). Her big mantra is 'no regrets'...but if she could travel back in time and wear a wedding dress with a Peter Pan collar and pockets, she'd pretty much die happy.

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